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Flying away like a bird: An instance of severance from the parental abode (Iwolaqamalycaane, Yagwoia, Papua New Guinea)

Jadran Mimica
p. 67-78


Ce texte est une interprétation psychanalytique de l'ethnographie concernant la lutte d'un garçon Yagwoia-Anga pour se détacher de la sphère de ses relations paternelles et de ses frères agnatiques. C'est un exemple d'une situation biographique particulière qui correspond à la dynamique générale, culturelle et existentielle, de la relation père-fils chez les Yagwoia.

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  • 1  And, by extension, of the Umeda-Punda-Sowanda people (Gell, 1975).
  • 2  The Yagwoia’s immediate neighbours are Sambia (Herdt, 1981, 1987), Baruya (Godelier, 1986), and NW (...)
  • 3  This is an extract from a long monographic work on the Yagwoia kinship whose focus is on the fathe (...)

1In a longer personal communication with Professor Juillerat during August 2004 I expressed my admiration for his outstanding corpus of ethnography of the Yafar life-world1 in the Sandaun (West Sepik) Province. I also expressed my hope that his writings will contribute to the revitalisation of psychoanalytic ethnography and psychoanalytic thinking in anthropology well outside the Francophone milieu despite the fact that his three major books (1991, 1995, 2001) have remained untranslated. I present this paper in homage to his legacy in the psychoanalytic exploration of New Guinea life-worlds, sociality and their cultural imaginary matrix. My scope will be ethnographic, a single case-study from Iwolaqamalycaane, a Yagwoia-Angan territorial group in the montane region of interior Papua New Guinea intersected by the borders of three provinces: Morobe, Gulf, and the Eastern Highlands Province2. The general subject-matter is the dynamics of the father-son relationship with the focus on the pivotal Yagwoia notion of the «incorporation of the father’s bone» and, correlatively, the «bone-power» (see Mimica, 2007: 5-6; 2007a: 77-105; 2008: 168-169)3.

  • 4  Ouroboros (or uroboros) is the well-known archetypal image of the self-eating serpent (Neumann, 19 (...)

2«Bone» condenses the paternal phallic – i.e., semenal-spiritual – power contained not just in the father’s genitals but in the entire skeleton which in the Yagwoia understanding of the bodily edifice is an arboreal structure and as such, a phallic-ouroboric totality that generates its own animation4. Reciprocally, this bodily microcosmos is animated by the macrocosmic metabolism generated by the movements, light and differential temperature of the sun and moon. This means that, like any tree, the bone (metonymically meaning the entire body as a phallic gestalt) is a generative organism whose trunk is rooted in the earth while the branches and leaves extend skyward. In the most expanded terms, the bone, then, is the human embodiment as the microcosmic equivalent of the macrocosmic edifice of the world delimited by the sky and earth (Mimica, 2006: 33). In terms of this global image (body = tree) the notion of the «father’s bone» means that he is primarily a bigger branch (arm) closer to the trunk (spine = central axis of the body), while his sons at first are the smaller branches (hand-fingers) issuing from it. Later, when they replace him, they, in Yagwoia understanding, extract his bone and, in turn, the sons themselves become incorporated into the branch closer to the trunk from which, qua themselves, issue their own branches (children).

3Daughters too are the branch-issues, but their destiny is to be like the leaves (finger-nails) that detach from the trunk because they marry outside of their own paternal «trunk» (latice group) and enable other trunks and their branches to internally reproduce themselves, i.e., that the fathers become replaced by their progeny of which the sons continue the process of (endo-) generation of the trunk via the incorporation into its branches which in turn are being incorporated into the trunk. The process is one of self-reciprocal incorporation (Mimica, 1991, 2006). Moreover, every part of this self-totalising totality is identical to the whole (i.e., is hologramic) concretely imagined as a tree closed in on itself, i.e., its branches and roots intertwining. This is the archetypal, cosmic tree-of-life whose structural determination is ouroboric because, like the serpent that eats its own tail, this tree grows in-through-and-out-of-itself, ad infinitum. Thus, the roots = trunk = branches = leaves = whole tree = trunk = roots = branches =and-so-on-∞. Apart from their cosmology and its diverse forms of actualisation, this scheme is fully objectified in the Yagwoia naming system (Mimica, 1988, 1991).

  • 5  I explain my use on the slashed un/conscious in 2006: 31-32; 2007a: 78-79. Minimally, it indicates (...)

4As a concrete reality, the dialectics of the incorporative process, which could readily be typecast as «patrifiliation», can be adequately understood only through individual-biographical life situations and trajectories. Psychoanalytically, in its determining structural dynamics incorporation of the paternal bone is an original and irreducibly pre-Oedipal constellation of desire in which the father fundamentally abdicates his phallic power («bone») to his sons. What may appear as an Oedipal (ternary) relational circuity, constitutive of the social field and its morphology, is an original morphism driven by a primary, narcissistic automorphic dynamism. Following Neumann (1954, 1966), I characterize it as «ouroboric» (Mimica, 1991, 2003). One of its diacritical aspects is the equipotentiality of the life-and-death instinctual drives (libido-mortido) whose specific articulation is a function of the actualisation of every concrete person’s life, i.e., his/her biographical vicissitudes in the field of kinship relatedness (Mimica, 2003, 2007a, 2008). Fundamentally, even in the most non-conflictual modalities of relatedness, the ouroboric dialectics of Yagwoia fatherhood and sonship subsists on immanent desire for the death of the father, it being the condition for the transference and the continuation of his bone-power in the son. Such in brief is the cosmo-ontological background of the following exploration into the un/conscious5 dynamics of Yagwoia intra-familial core-circuity.

  • 6  All names are fictional constructions based on the combinations of Yagwoia syllables and morphemes
  • 7  Huma-y-o-qwa = negative/privation-nominal marker-male gender clitic-male gender marker.

5I came to know UlaqWapace6 over a period of three years in the mid-nineties (ca 1993-1996) while he was in his mid teens (13-16). Within his field of kinship relatedness he was occupying a position whose limitations he grasped very early on in his young life. UlaqWapace is the fourth-born (pacoqwa) and the youngest son by his father’s first wife Waponaqa. Within his sibling group, UlaqWapace was in the most disadvantaged position: the youngest in a double, cross-sex series of siblings and without his same birth-order sister, i.e. the proper contra-sexual mirror-self (see Mimica, 1991). To the extent that he has three sisters, they are primarily so to his three older brothers with whom they formed the same birth-order couplets while UlaqWapace himself is a humayoqwa7, literally one who is «without» a complement. Therefore, for each of his sisters there was another brother, older than UlaqWapace, who was her true cross-sex complement and who as such had the undisputable primary claims in her fecundity, bride-price, children and all their life-payments. UlaqWapace was entirely dependant on his brothers’ good will to share their fraternal and sororal assets with him but he had not that primary sororal-female domain which would allow him to claim her as truly and exclusively his own procreative bodily estate and contra-sexual self.

6I will make a brief reference to UlaqWapace’s patrilateral half-brother Ulaqayi, a trans-gendered person, whose predicament I have explored in a separate study (Mimica, 2008). In Yagwoia imagery these two patrilateral half-brothers are of the same penis (i.e., father) but different net-bags (wombs = mothers). Ulaqayi has only one older brother and four sisters, two for each of them. But since he is primarily a woman rather than a man, the elder brother claimed all their sisters for himself. One can say that since Ulaqayi himself has always been his own female domain, and so in excess (Mimica, 2008), he effectively undercut his access to the female fecundity of his sisters, including the one who was of the same birth-order as himself. Although I will make no further cross-references to Ulaqayi, an examination of UlaqWapace’s life-trajectory against this tacit background will be particularly instructive since their penile connection binds them to the same father, yet their respective «bone» (phallic) dynamics vis-à-vis the father and their mothers, couldn’t have been articulated more differently (ibid.). UlaqWapace eventually came to a conclusion that being the son of his father and the brother of all his elder brothers (full and half) was untenable in the given conditions and, as we shall see, he opted for a way out, realising in the process that he had a bone-power, all his own, to give him strength and to protect him.

  • 8  It was clear that as his father was getting older that he became entirely focussed on Ulaqayi whil (...)

7I got the first intimation of UlaqWapace’s appreciation of his intra-familial position when I just casually remarked on the fact that Ulaqayi and his siblings were indeed his close agnatic kin. To this UlaqWapace quite bitterly replied that they were, but all the same, as far as their way of relating to him was concerned, they have become an altogether different kind of people – the non-kin in no uncertain terms. Why? They don’t care at all about him, meaning they don’t give him anything, be that food, clothes, money, or anything whatsoever. It was a mood expressing the familiar outlook on Yagwoia kinship relatedness generated by polygamous men where, indeed, the siblings by different mothers are like separate satellite groups, each kept bound from within itself by virtue of being the children of the same mother-planet, and orbiting with other such mother-bound-units around their common solar centre, the father. However, there are always individuals who not just feel and see themselves as being excluded from the intersubjective flow of kinship giving and taking, but are actually subject to such a deprivation. UlaqWapace was certainly in that position. This was conditioned by the fact that he was the youngest of the lot and the fact that his father didn’t seem to have taken him under his wing, which is what the youngest offspring may expect. As the Yagwoia say, the last-born son (ulaqwa) is the father’s true vital organ (qalye). UlaqWapace wasn’t8, and if there was a male person from whom he expected a committed paternal concern that was his eldest first-born brother QW. In the main UlaqWapace was ambivalent about him. Even his most luminous idealisations of the big, grown-up brother and the father-surrogate couldn’t neutralise the increasing frustrations produced by the latter’s failure to fulfil his little brother’s most basic wants and desire. A few times I saw that QW would give UlaqWapace a shirt, a pair of trousers, maybe a tin of fish or a small gift of money, but not quite enough, which would have meant a great deal in the little boy’s appetitive sphere. Perhaps, more concern and tactful generosity from all three older brothers would have tempered his resentment in regard to the more substantial issue, namely that they didn’t think it necessary to share some of their sisters’ bride-price with their youngest one.

8Whatever he might have felt about his father and the three older brothers in his early life and teens, by the time I got to know him, UlaqWapace experienced all of them, and for quite good reasons, as the differential refractions of one and the same ungiving and uncaring negativity. He started his self-account with the characterisation of the father as «not a good man (because) he doesn’t buy clothes (for his children) nor had he payed for his sons’ women. Other people know us as this man’s progeny. But that is not so. We ourselves do hard work and obtain women, clothes, and all other things. The brothers go to town to work for money and buy all these things (women included). He is not a good father; he only looks at us (i.e. depends on them). I am fed up with him». Here UlaqWapace spoke of himself as one of the brothers and equivalent to them. Although he was still young for getting a woman, in his own way he tried to fend for himself and so from the earliest childhood, as we shall see. The strongest indicator of his fraternal exclusion was that he had no share in the sisters’ bride-price:

« When I go roaming (to Yalqwaalye) on my own I bemoan this condition of mine. They (the brothers) are not willing to tell me – “take some money and go buy something for yourself”, not truly! They’ve got sisters and they don’t say – “take a bit of the money from the sister”; they don’t think of giving me some. »

9This perception also applied to his two patrilateral half-brothers (Ulaqayi and his older brother) about whom he said:

«they don’t know to help me with anything.»

10And he wasn’t exaggerating.

11UlaqWapace judged all of his closest agnatic brothers in terms of the most basic Yagwoia premise of interpersonal evaluation which is whether one has been given something by somebody or not. Thus:

« When my three brothers went to Rabaul (to work on plantations) they didn’t give me anything. When they returned they brought three (transistor) radios. I asked them to give me one but they didn’t hear me (i.e. disregarded his demand). »

12And he is not another, alien person, but their youngest brother. Yet over and over again, there was little of their supposed common substance coming his way from them. UlaqWapace felt fundamentally as being left out on his own. He wasn’t seeing much of his aging father because the latter wasn’t helping him. And as for all his brothers, he said:

«I am fed up with them. They are not truly brothers.»

13Throughout 1995 he felt that his life-space was a persecutory field with him caught in the middle between his first-born and third-born brother who resided at two different locations, and his father in the third, and each had nothing in store for him but an unwelcome word and grudge. This was also due to the fact that his brothers felt that he was giving them nothing more but his demands.

  • 9  This is a characteristic Yagwoia image of the giving and hence procreative hand. It condenses thei (...)

14When asked from and on whose hand did he grow up9, UlaqWapace sketched out an intricate picture of his earliest childhood symptomatic of his self-image and his predicament in the family matrix.

  • 10  One should not be too literal about the actual age accuracy indicated by the image of «walking on (...)

«When my mother bore me I stayed in a net-bag and she carried me around. My mother carried me so and (after a while) I grew up a little bit. When I began to walk on all fours and became like Aa (a little girl we both knew well, aged 2-4 at the time)10 my mother would go down to Ac (place) and leave me (alone). Now this time I used to dig up cina (worm) from the ground, cook and eat it. I used to do so and I grew up quickly by myself.»

  • 11  It will be noted that the kin-term for mother’s brother is 1S namne > namnoqwa, meaning literally (...)

15Although little children, usually accompanied by an older child (sibling), do occupy themselves with such food procurations, what is important is that he unreservedly says that he was on his own and that he fed and made himself grew up by himself on the lowliest of morsels, worms. However, this was in the context of a relative separation from and absence of his mother. But he doesn’t claim that therefore he was his own giving and growing hand. Rather, in exactly this context he had a dream in which the spirit of his dead mother’s brother11 (WT; same birth-order as his mother) appeared and told him:

« You will not stay thus (a little child) for a long time. You will grow up fast on my hand». Moreover, «he gave me a yellow some-thing and I put it into the mouth and this thing dissolved in the mouth. I saw him thus in the dream and he told me “You will stay on my hand now” and I told him “Fine, I can stay so”. Then my mother came but when you are still a child it is hard to talk to her (i.e. he didn’t tell her what happened in the dream). My mother killed a possum this time and gave it to me and I ate it. And this time I grew up fast. Then I knew that I didn’t dream nothing. I grew up quickly and my brothers didn’t help me even a little bit. Thus I grew up a bit more. »

16Although he clearly sets himself in opposition to his unhelpful brothers, who also subsume his father, which indicates that the dream experience and the self-account are calibrated by his present perspective on his young life as a whole, I don’t doubt that his dream is a genuine childhood experience which has a critical significance for his self-consciousness and his un/conscious. The appearance of the dead «mother’s breast» (MB) is symptomatic of the context of a relative separation from the mother, her absence and, correlatively, his self-feeding. Yagwoia children learn very early on from their mothers and other relations about the vital significance of their male «mother’s breasts». The fact that UlaqWapace’s MB was dead at the time, suggests that he would have been aware of him as a spirit for that is a factual aspect of Yagwoia existence of which they are acutely mindful, especially in regard of deceased maternal relatives (see Mimica, 2003, 2006). So, to the extent that in the Yagwoia life-world one’s «mother’s breast» is said to be the true source of a person’s bodily growth, UlaqWapace had received his maternal uncle’s feeding substance in a very literal sense: he ingested it. What exactly that yellow substance was UlaqWapace didn’t say and from the way he received it, he probably didn’t know what it was. But from the speedy growth that he subsequently experienced he knew that it was something very powerful and efficient. The dream was true.

17From his MB’s oneiric annunciation follows that UlaqWapace grew up from and on the hand of his male mother whose existence as a spirit also accentuates UlaqWapace’s relative independence and separateness from the paternal and patrifilial bond that he came to experience as frustrating and being without substance. Hence his final statement that his brothers had no part in his growth also extends to his father. The detail of his mother killing and giving him to eat a marsupial at the point after he had incorporated his male mother’s breast’s spirit-food-substance (clearly related to yet different from the carnal maternal milk) reinforces UlaqWapace’s stress on the maternal bond. In fact women do not hunt marsupials but receive them from their husbands and classificatory sons especially in the context of childbirth prestations (see Mimica, 1991). Indeed, there is an aspect of this maternal marsupial-giving which not only neutralises the father’s significance in UlaqWapace’s growth but at the same time relates it tacitly to marsupial consumption in the context of initiations through which a boy is made into a man-made man. Although not explicitly stated, all this clearly suggests that for UlaqWapace the transmission of his father’s bone, and therefore of the articulation of his paternal mediation of the ouroboric phallic self-circuity, is blotted out. In his self-experience as a one who kept on growing from the hand-bone power of the spirit «mother’s breast», it is this maternal mode of mediation of the phallus that has a high degree of saliency. He didn’t have to demand it or struggle for its acquisition but it was put into his mouth. I can say then that his internal male maternal self-object, which modified UlaqWapace’s purely maternal ouroboric container, has been of pivotal importance from early childhood on. And this remained unaltered since he, like so many (but not all) Yagwoia of his generation, hasn’t been nose-pierced. On the other hand, the importance of the father and his fraternal surrogate in his un/consciousness wasn’t abolished but has developed into a resentful deprivation, which in that very mode only aggravates the desire for the negation and destructive incorporation of the paternal bone-power. UlaqWapace’s unreserved pronouncements that his father wasn’t good, on a par to all his brothers, is a symptomatic indicator of this dynamics.

18Throughout his young life the maternal sphere, centred on his M and MZ, remained stable and supportive. It was in his mother’s garden that in 1995 he made his own taro plot which she tended on the regular basis, while he was attending to it more sporadically. As his MZ resided for a while in the Iqwaye territory he would stay with her every time he would go into that area. Another man whom UlaqWapace readily credits with showing care and concern for him is his first-born sister’s husband. He worked for a few years in East New Britain at a plantation near Rabaul. When he sent for his wife to join him he also explicitly asked for UlaqWapace to come with her. Therefore UlaqWapace readily acknowledged that his ZH significantly contributed to his bodily growth, as opposed to his father and brothers. After a few years UlaqWapace returned to his home area together with his sister and ZH where he quickly fell back into the position of a marginal young brother growing up ever more frustrated by his predicament. Then QANg, related to UlaqWapace as a classificatory agnatic brother, took him into his care knowing also that I would be able to hire him to cook for me every time I was in the area doing my research. The money I gave him made him feel less dependent on his brothers for cash and things it can buy.

  • 12  Since UlaqWapace gave me both the vernacular and Tok Pisin versions a few details not mentioned in (...)

19Now in 1995, shortly after I finished my annual stint of field research, on the account of his brothers’ persistent refusal to give him a thing or two they brought from Rabaul, UlaqWapace went as far as Kainantu (Eastern Highlands Province) where he stayed with a few men from his home-area. He intended to buy some clothes. However, he met a local man who, UlaqWapace said, took pity on him and offered to sell him a substance of great power that would make him strong, and in general protect him. This was a human bone ground into fine powder by a masin (machine) and placed into a small bottle. All one needs is to smear a mote of this powder on one’s chest and face, and/or just open the bottle, then encircle oneself with it and it will impart its power to the user; in other words, endow him with bone-power. That this was too tempting for UlaqWapace is made clear by the sheer fact the he paid 50 Kina for this bone-power concentrate. Especially for him, that was a huge amount of money. The powder became his most treasured possession about which he told me in the context of the explication of a dream that he had in February 1996, just a few days before I left the field. By then he had been using the secret bone-powder for almost a year. An explication of its significance in the overall psychodynamics of UlaqWapace’s self will best be presented in the perspective of that fateful dream. A veritable production of his oneiro-mythopoeic un/conscious, the dream expresses with a heightened lucidity the decisive existential threshold that UlaqWapace had reached in his life-trajectory. Although the narrative form follows the vernacular version, I am giving it in a presentation whose economy aims at the maximum and immediate clarity of all the details12.

20(1) In the dream he is first inside a house, then he moves out and proceeds to walk. As he does so he begins to fly and becomes fully airborne. (He later clarified that he just put his two legs together and arms tightly close to his body which he stiffened and then began to fly). He landed at a waterfall then he saw a man (whom he didn’t know) coming towards him.

21(2) Having looked at him coming, UlaqWapace wanted to fly off but at that very moment this (unknown) man grabbed him. The man had a knife with which he proceeded to cut UlaqWapace but the latter in turn blocked the knife and took hold of it. UlaqWapace then turned on his attacker and began to cut him instead. The man screamed in pain and while doing so many men began to come (to the place of UlaqWapace’s mortal conjunction with the unknown attacker). They kept on coming but UlaqWapace proceeded to deliver blows cutting them as he did so, and they in turn were dying-falling and rolling all around the place. He vanquished them all.

  • 13  It is of critical significance that in the vernacular UlaqWapace used the term namnye (rather than (...)

22(3) Then he sees another man coming towards the waterfall place where he killed all those men. Him he recognised as his elder brother QW13. He asks him «Why did you truly kill all those men?» and UlaqWapace replies to him «They fought me and wanted to kill me, so I killed them». His big brother said «fair enough». Accompanied by his brother-semblance, they two went to the same-as-Yakane place.

  • 14  This is the last cluster of hamlets from where the road leads across the range into the Iqwaye ter (...)

23(4) Having arrived there14, the brother-semblance said: «Where do you want to go?» UlaqWapace replied to him: «You go where your thought wills to go; you carry on as you will. I will go where my thought wills to go». He then began to move and he flew away; flying thus he came and sat on a tree.

24(5) He then sees a man (he doesn’t know him) down yonder coming towards the tree on which he is sitting. He comes to the tree, comes up and grabs UlaqWapace. He screams and wakes up shaken up.

25(6) As he was shouting (and coming out of the dream experience) he thought that it was someone outside (the house) voicing rather than he himself. Then he realised that he himself was screaming. Distraught he woke up trembling. That is what he saw in the dream.

26When I asked UlaqWapace what did he think might be the meaning of his dream, he initially said that he didn’t know but then immediately continued to elaborate on the fact that him killing so many men (in the dream) has to do with his secret possession that he obtained in town, i.e. his bone-powder power. «Nobody can touch me» he said, i.e. do harm to him because it protects him. This is how I learned about his secret source of power. In the conversation I clarified with him various motifs and details featuring in the dream without further asking him about this – for him – central significance of the dream. The next day he came to tell me that his dream was not for nothing. Rather, he now realised that in the dream his soul (kune umpne) went to fight men as a test of the power in his possession, for its purpose is to give him muscle-strength to fight men. He was clearly content with this understanding which quite straightforwardly followed from the dream itself since he indeed did vanquish all those men who wanted in the first place to kill him. On this score he added a few details in the Tok Pisin version of the dream narrative. Following the initial attack by the first unknown man whom UlaqWapace managed to overcome, take his knife, and cut him (2), the man screamed and then a multitude of men attacked UlaqWapace at the waterfall place. Before he managed to vanquish them, he said that they first overcame him so much so that he was half-dead. But then he got up again, grabbed a knife from them and proceeded to cut and throw them all over the place. Finally, just one man again came at him with a knife but he pushed him and he fell into the waterfall and as he did so, the dream-scene alters since at that point (3) there comes his older brother QW who showed no disapproval of his younger brother’s action and accepted his reasons for killing all those men. In the dream his brother also said that they wanted to shorten his (UlaqWapace’s) life, therefore they got back in kind.

27UlaqWapace’s self-understanding pivots on the manifest mode of his self-affirmation over and against other humans, all of whom, except for his elder brother - the overt double, relate to him with extreme violence and desire to kill him. At the same time his counter-actions are not only commensurate but more powerful and efficient. It will be noticed that in both instances of the uninhibited attack on him he manages to extract the deadly weapon (knife)from his attackers and then turns it against them with lethal efficiency. UlaqWapace doesn’t reflect on who and what these others may be and why are they attacking him; he just doesn’t know them. He relates to his dream experience on the basis of the self-synthesis that he and his un/conscious self had already accomplished through the dream action, whereby he triumphed over these hostile humans from which he wanted to fly away (separate) but one of them kept on pulling him back. Nevertheless, he is gratified by the outcome and retrospectively he fully consummates his newly won self-regard. He now knows that the precious bone-power in his possession is truly in him, and he can feel self-assured that he can take on any foe. And more; although the dream ends with him getting grabbed and pulled back just at the point when he wanted to fly away again, it is also clear from the preceding episodes in the dream that, nevertheless, he can deal successfully with such interceptions of his project. There is already behind him a trail of violent severances due to the fact that these unknown others wanted to block his intent to effectively fly away from his home area.

28The dream, then, fully articulates UlaqWapace’s rupture with his familial and the wider societal container. His fundamental intent, to go away and be elsewhere, starts in the primary container (house) within which he is situated. The motive force is, in fact, autosymbolised by the overt dream-image: he starts moving out of the house, and the next he is ascending in the comportment of a bird. In terms of the cultural un/conscious of the Yagwoia life-world, which is incarnated and generated by intergenerational succession of living humans, this avian transfiguration is virtually self-intelligible because the human soul, on a par to its quiddity as breath-heat, is a highly aerial, detachable and dispersible substance, and it is commonly metaphorised as a bird. By the same token, this aerial ascent clearly shows that the dominant passion of his soul is to release himself from the impasse of his domestic life-situation. For this he has to face his self-otherness, i.e. all those to whom he is attached, indeed from whom he expects and demands the affirmation of his self through giving him some of the things they possess (i.e. their substance), but they don’t yield it. In that determination, the desire of and for himself which is invested in them, is simultaneously self-alien and is turning against him. That was exactly his experience of his father and brothers: the more he demanded and expected from them the more they were unforthcoming and rejecting of him, and reciprocally the more he resented them and saw them as being against him.

29In the dream this negative self-mirroring takes the form of an extremely hostile and attacking double. What has to be grasped is that it is a male figure, i.e. self-same as the dreamer yet simultaneously indexed as self-different by virtue of him being unknown. In the dynamic and diverse structuration of the archetypal figure of the double (eg. Rank, 1979; Roheim, 1945; Lacan, 1979, 2006) the feature «unknown» can be taken as one of the most common determinations of self-difference. But to the extent that the dreamer’s acting self doesn’t know the approaching man and wants to fly away, it is this other who acts in the mirror-opposite fashion: he closes in on him and by that sheer fact shows that he is more than interested in the dreamer. The two are literally in the flight-fight mirror relation. The other’s very alienness (being unknown to the dreamer-self) is the mirror inversion of their seeming non-relation. But the other proceeds to grab the dreamer-self and thus establishes the most intense body-to-body relation. The other claims him through a deadly conjunction; of the two it is the alien who seemingly wants to annihilate and thus make the dreamer’s self the recipient of the other’s self-drivenness and desire to destroy him. In this extreme negative mirror-conjunction UlaqWapace reverses the circuit of the other’s desire: the other wants to knife him but UlaqWapace in turn seizes the instrument of destruction and the flow of nihilating desire is reversed (this much UlaqWapace himself later has told his brother in the dream).

  • 15  For the equivalent dynamics articulated in another Yagwoia man, see Mimica (2007a).

30At the moment when his foe gets the taste of his own destructive desire (i.e. the dynamism which drives it), he screams in pain and there ensues a whole phalanx of his, I can say, replicants. Here one sees at work the totalising or «holographic» dynamism that sustains this kind of imago of the mirror-double dominated by extreme destructiveness which, in fact, is the non-differentiated libido-mortido (or destrudo). This indeed is a regal characteristic of the primordial sphere of psychic energy and its auto-constructive dynamics15. In the ensuing sonic rupture (screaming), the monadic double has engendered a multitude of his replicants who with the same destructive inertia attack the dreamer. From the one comes an indefinite multitude and they all converge on the dreamer’s self who as such continues to be the magnetic mirror-complement of the negative monad which they just replaced and multiplied.

  • 16  For my usage of ^, see Mimica (2006: 31). Briefly, it signifies that any two terms thus conjoined (...)
  • 17  I wish to emphasise that this simple totalising schematism of self-sameness and self-difference is (...)

31After initially succumbing to their monomaniacal ire UlaqWapace reverses this confluence of the many into one (i.e. himself) and destroys them all. Then there comes the last nihilating attack as a terminal echo of the first conjunctive monad; as UlaqWapace pushes him into the waterfall this dynamism gets extinguished at last. This entire sequence of negative, disjunctive-conjunctions with the double has the following mirror-hologramic articulation: self - other (one^one)16 > self - multitude of self-same others (one^many ones) > self - other (one^one)17. The terminal extinction of the monadic unknown other (double) is followed by the appearance of a new but entirely familiar double in the semblance of QW, who is both UlaqWapace’s elder brother and the surrogate father. But before I elucidate this new mode of mirror-coupling with a positive other, who incarnates UlaqWapace’s bone and flesh identity, it will be important to say a few words about the probable significance of the waterfall locality where the earlier carnage of a conjunction took place.

  • 18  The plural of «cathexis», a technical term created by Freud’s translator James Strachey; it can be (...)
  • 19  For a discussion, see Mimica (2006: 32).
  • 20  In a dream by another person this scheme is further transfigured since the overt image is a huge e (...)
  • 21  This centripetal mother-child matrix can be further amplified in reference to the ouroboros as an (...)

32To be sure, this entire scenario of a bloody fight with a double, especially its multiples, at an aquatic location, has a parallel not only in the dream scenarios of several other Yagwoia individuals, but it also occurs in a ququne (word, talk, i.e. story, narrative) widely known among old and young, especially in UlaqWapace’s home area. The focus of this narrative, however, is not just on the bloody fight but on a water-whirlpool which devours the vanquished men who fall into it. In other dreams these details vary but as the variants of an overall constellation of details which belong to the still recognisably self-same imaginal scenario and which, through further modifications and alterations, may become transfigured into a considerably different one that nevertheless echoes the original. This is exactly the relation between that imaginal scenario widely known through the existing narrative and those occurring in individual dreams of which UlaqWapace is one particular example. I didn’t ask UlaqWapace if he new this particular story but it is safe enough to assume that he probably did since some other locals of his age, male and female, do. Be that as it may, the intersubjectively shared narrative variant of the imaginal scenario does not make UlaqWapace’s oneiric creation any less original precisely because no perceptual or cognitive experience of something is just a copying activity. Rather, experience is a total psycho-organismic and as such assimilative-constructive process subject to the specific cathexes18 of the egoic self19 that is making an experience his/her own. If anything, the intersubjectively shared scenario acquires a new dimension of signification precisely by becoming assimilated into and reworked within the un/conscious matrix of UlaqWapace’s self and his life-situation. Hence its irreducible oneiro-mythopoeic originality. Having said  this, I will not go into detailed exegeses of the significance of the devouring water which in UlaqWapace’s dream is really a less pronounced motif, occurring as an omissible detail. A comparison of the recorded variants, dreamt and narrated, as well as their resonances with other related motifs, would show that it is a manifest image predicated of the maternal phallic ouroboric body-scheme focussed on its oral orifice, a totalising part-object in which the sucking infant’s mouth and the nipple = eye = breast = face = mother = world generate a ceaseless centripetal sense of the self-world relationship20. This is concordant with the pre-oedipal structuration of the drive matrix and the fused libido-mortido which as such determines the auto-constructive dynamics of the Yagwoia libidinal body-image and the egoic self21.

33However, what is more prominent in UlaqWapace’s dream scenario is that the bloody self-other conjunctive-disjunction takes place by a waterfall into which, eventually, the terminal negative double falls and with it the destructive dynamism ceases. I have no UlaqWapace’s associations on this motif. For him, the entire dream is intelligible in a synthetic unity of the dream action produced as such by his soul which made evident that the bone-power he bought is now well and truly in him. I will draw on the implicit ramifications of his self-regard and the following wider cultural cluster of significations of waterfall:

  1. as a place that can be chosen for the depositing of the neonate’s umbilical cord;

  2. in the Yagwoia life-world (as in numerous others) water is a female substance and specifically as a waterfall it expressly symbolises womb (whirlpool) and its vaginal opening (which for the Yagwoia has oral determination);

    • 22  This image is further explicitly enacted in the first initiation ceremony.

    it thus also relates to the images of the womb as a house and the house broken by swollen water as the child-birth22;

    • 23  Compare the case of QC (Mimica, 2007a: 87) and his auto-curative visionary experiences at the wate (...)

    relating to this waterfall/whirlpool figures as an entry into the intra-terrestrial realm of the wild forest spirits and therefore of their powers23.

34These few specifications form a sufficiently dense cluster of the waterfall image-bound significations within which UlaqWapace’s dream-scenario, that includes a waterfall location, has a sound associational and pre-predicative (Husserl, 1974) motivation. And precisely as such it is in the context of the dream as a whole, its wholeness being the function of the dreamer’s whole life and experience, that this dream and its scenarios qua all their parts, is articulating irreducibly his own critical life-situation.

35All this stated, one can now look again at the manifest imagery of the dream which, like all the products of dream noesis is auto-symbolising, fundamentally of the dreamer’s self-world – i.e. existential – situation. In his dream-scape UlaqWapace first exits from his primal domestic container, a house. Then he flies away and lands at the waterfall place, from where he intends to continue with his flight. Here, then, is the transitional place of self-origination and self-transformation, which entails the severance of the tie that binds. However, to the extent that UlaqWapace has to rupture his familial bond, it is entirely determined by his patrifilial negative self-other demands and rejections. It is this self-circuity that inexorably drives him to negate his negators and simultaneously makes him want to go away. In his matrifilial self-circuity his life-providing hand that put the spirit-food substance into his mouth is that of his «mother’s breast» (MB). That is UlaqWapace’s power, acquired in early childhood, which gave him a sense of his life-generating self-qua-other-centredness, not his father’s giving hand. This male-matri-power was finally supplemented by the bone-powder power, his very own acquisition bought in Kainantu, a distant place, for 50 Kina, a portion of what he earned by cooking for me. It is maximally external to any kinship circuity of his egoic self, and therefore is the foremost fulcrum for his self-repossession over and against his self-otherness, the negating paternal fraternity. It is they, or more precisely, his own patrifilial self-circuity (his patri-self-object relations) that is dealt with in the carnage by the waterfall. The maternal ouroboric self-anchorage that structures the libido-mortido through the mirroring dynamics, is the conduit for all other incorporative-identificatory self-circuity through which the ego feeds, grows, and/or stagnates and atrophies. Thus, in his dream scenario, to the extent that UlaqWapace wants to fly away from his very own paternal bonds that both make him want to fly away and yet are pulling him back, he has to make the cutting. His ‘unknown’ double does that for him, that is, his own mirror-negative, destructive-libidinal identifications with his father and brothers, and so, I may say, at the place of «the primal waterfall of creation», the umbilical connection with the maternal fons et origio of his very self. The fight is perfectly passively-active. The dreamer’s self is attacked and then he reverses the negation by negating his negator, in each instance extracting from him/them the instrument of his/their destructive phallic power, i.e. the non-differentiated libido-mortido dominated by aggression. The ouroboric devouring (sucking) nature of the waterfall (oral phallic womb) is manifest in the version of the fight where its termination is effected through the pushing and disappearance of the attacking double into the waterfall.

  • 24   The opposite of «cathexis» and means «disinvestment».
  • 25  Compare this with QP’s (Mimica, 2007a: 92-97) dream in which his severance from the «white man com (...)

36What has been effected in this is not just an auto-symbolisation of self-procreation through the conjunctive disjunction with the double whose reality is only imaginal-presentational; this deadly coniuctio has effected a real energic transformation in the libidinal (inclusive of mortido) self-structuration. UlaqWapace has literally effected a decathexis24 of his extreme negative libidinal investments in his patrifilial self-circulation (his paternal self-objects) and thus repossessed it in a new key. He has become more of his own self-possession. This is the psychodynamic significance of his severance from the primal bonds which not just facilitate but also ensnare and stultify the growth of the self. Indeed, to the extent that self-castration is the structural moment in the phallic-ouroboric dynamism through which the self effects its growth and transformation, UlaqWapace’s vanquishing of his self-otherness is a telling example of the imaginal form this dynamic can assume in the un/conscious matrix of a particular egoic self25. Such, I submit, is the meaning of the «carnage by the waterfall» in UlaqWapace’s dream scenario.

  • 26  It is here that I wish especially to emphasise Roheim’s formulations and observations on the dual (...)
  • 27  In terms of the libidinal body image and drive structuration, including self-object equilibration (...)
  • 28  Yet it is exactly in the severance of this maternal oral-ocular core that a truly more radical gra (...)

37The double, being a formative expression of the pre-oedipal structuring dynamics through which the primitive, non-differentiated libido-mortido (life=death) undergoes articulation and transformation, is indestructible and, in that determination, immortal. Hence in UlaqWapace’s dream this imago re-appears as soon as it gets vanquished, but in the guise of a new, familiar semblance, the big brother QW who, precisely as such, sustains a more positive libidinal valency26. UlaqWapace enters in conjunction with him through verbal exchange that the latter initiates. One can see in this a moment in the overall activity of UlaqWapace’s egoic self in which there is a paternally toned super-ego at work, and to be sure, supportive of the ego. QW asks his little brother to account for his lethal action and condones it entirely in terms of the mirror-reciprocal sense of equity (justice) – «tit for tat». There is not here any «Thou shall not kill!», or for that matter a categorical «NO». Besides, the vanquished other(s) is unknown, as it were, a not-oneself. And in another mode of his self circuity, in the wakeful self-conscious reassessment of the dream experience, UlaqWapace clearly understood the significance of his soul’s dream-carnage: it gave him the self-certitude that he has truly got the mighty bone-power in his very body, with or without the paternal-fraternal assistance and consent. It should be noticed that the maternal ouroboric core of his super-ego remains consolidated in its archaic determination and supremacy. It is presenced by the waterfall in which the constructive destruction of the negative double became extinguished27. It is the stability of this maternal self-circuity that has afforded and sustained UlaqWapace’s active self-severance and the modification of his paternal self-circuity28.

  • 29  In the Tok Pisin version of the dream narrative QW replied: «Fine, from here we-two go separate wa (...)

38What is astonishing in the dream is the resoluteness with which UlaqWapace splits up with his brother who clearly no longer has a strong significance of an ego-ideal or a guiding authority. The latter asks which way to go, UlaqWapace tells him to follow his will and road while he in turn will follow his own. The brother consents29 and UlaqWapace soars as a bird again, flies and lands on a tree. This is the boundary threshold where the home-territory ends. He is only propelled by his one project – to leave home and keep on flying. But as in the initial phase, the ascent (flight) followed by descent (repose) effects the repetition of the same inner disjunctive^conjunctive self-splitting dynamics – another unknown man follows him like a faithful shadow. I have no doubts that no matter how far UlaqWapace will go his other-one and his myriad imaginal replicants will be there, if only as a momentary compulsive reminder of his originary self-matrix, intending to drag him down and to force him anew to struggle for his own self-affirmation and possession regardless of the lure of all the familial self-others whom he claims just as much as they do him, as his = their blood, flesh, bone, food, and thus, fundamentally, as their very libidinal self. On the other hand, it is exactly through the active negation of his crypto paternal-fraternal self-object (in the guise of the unknown double) that he finally came to effectively re-capture and incorporate his phallic-bone and as such his share of the immanent patrimonial power. In truth, long before UlaqWapace’s turn came to deal with his old father’s phallic bone, it was well and truly syphoned into his older brothers. Everything about the old man’s comportment towards his children made clear that he had abandoned himself to his older sons (Mimica, 2008). Equally so, it is in relation to them that UlaqWapace really struggled to at once have and be his own self despite its patrimonial depletion and frustration.

  • 30  But as a spirit of the dead he remained attached, same as he was while alive, to his other, transg (...)

39UlaqWapace’s awakening was characteristically ambiguous and indicative of the intensity of his dream experience. As he was surfacing into wakeful self-consciousness he in the process heard the screaming thinking momentarily that it was someone outside the house in which he was sleeping. Then he surfaced completely as he recognised that it was himself who was screaming. Awake, infused with shivers, he was in the same kind of house container from which his soul, at the inception of the dream went on to fly and, as a boon, thus revealed to him the true efficiency of his secret power possession. Even if it didn’t seem so he was no longer exactly the same boy he was when he fell asleep. The day before I left his abode I took a photograph of UlaqWapace as he was sitting perched on the inside of a window of my hut looking at all the preparations I was doing before my departure but really brooding over his situation. He looked exactly as I understood his predicament to be: he was depressed, anxious, and yet there was a glimmer of self-satisfied resignation to his situation. The deed that his soul accomplished only a few days earlier in his dream had made him and his un/conscious self ready for his decisive take off. I wasn’t at all surprised when I learned a year later that he left for West New Britain shortly after my departure. His big brother QW followed him not much later. His two other brothers also went and came back, and in subsequent years every time I was back for my annual field research I learned that UlaqWapace had grown into a big man and that he was supposedly coming back in a month or two. If at the time one of his brothers was also away in Kimbe (West New Britain), this was supposedly for the purpose of bringing him back. To and fro they went a few times but to the best of my knowledge, by 2003, a good seven years after that fateful departure, UlaqWapace did not once come back for a visit. Finally he briefly visited his home-area in 2006 with his non-Yagwoia wife and then left again. His father was already dead for eight years30.

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Bonnemère Pascale and Pierre Lemonnier. 2007. Les tambours de l’oubli / Drumming to Forget: Ordinary Life and Ceremonies Among a Papua New Guinea Group of Forest Dwellers, Pirae (Tahiti), Au vent des îles / musée du quai Branly.

Gell Alfred, 1975. Metamorphosis of the Cassowaries: Umeda Society, Language and Ritual, London, Athlone Press.

Godelier Maurice, 1986. The Making of Great Men: Male Domination and Power Among the New Guinea Baruya, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.

Herdt Gilbert, 1981. Guardians of the Flutes: Idioms of Masculinity, New York, MGraw-Hill.

—, 1987. The Sambia: Ritual and Gender in New Guinea, Belmont, Wadsworth Publishing.

Husserl Edmund, 1974. Judgement and Experience, London, Routledge and Kegan Paul.

Jakobson Roman, 1985. Poetry of Grammar and Grammar of Poetry, in K. Pomorska and S. Rudy (eds), Verbal Art, Verbal Sign, Verbal Time, Oxford, Blackwell (1st ed. 1980, in Poetics Today, Vol. 2, No. 1a, pp. 83-85).

Juillerat Bernard, 1991. Œdipe chasseur : une mythologie du sujet en Nouvelle-Guinée, Paris, Presses universitaires de France.

—,1995. L’avènement du père. Rite, représentation, fantasme dans un culte mélanésien, Paris, cnrs Éditions - Éditions de la maison des sciences de l’homme.

—, 2001. Penser l’imaginaire : Essais d’anthropologie psychanalytique, Lausanne, Éditions Payot.

Lacan Jacques, 1979. The Neurotic’s Individual Myth, The Psychoanalytic Quarterly 48, pp. 405-425.

—, 2006. The Mirror Stage as Formative of the I Function as Revealed in Psychoanalytic Experience, Écrits: The First Complete Edition in English (Transl. B. Fink), New York, Norton.

Mimica Jadran, 1981. Omalyce: An Ethnography of the Iqwqaye View of the Cosmos, PhD Thesis, Canberra, Australian National University.

—, 1988. Intimations of Infinity: The Counting System and the Concept of Number among the Iqwaye, Oxford, Berg Publishers.

—,1991. The Incest Passions: An Outline of the Logic of the Iqwaye Social Organisation, Oceania 62 (1, 2), pp. 34-58 & pp. 81-113.

—, 2003. The Death of a Strong, Great, Bad Man: An Ethnography of Soul Incorporation, Oceania 73 (4), pp. 260-286.

—, 2003a. Out of the Depths of Saurian Waters: On Psycho-Bakhtinism, Ethnographic Countertransference, and Naven, Anthropological Notebooks9 (1), pp. 5-47.

—, 2006. Dreams, Laki, and Mourning: A Psychoanalytic Ethnography of the Yagwoia (PNG) ‘Inner Feminine’, Oceania 76 (1-3), pp. 27-60, 113-129 & 265-284.

—, 2007. Introduction, in J. Mimica (ed.), Explorations in Psychoanalytic Ethnography, New York, Berghahn Publishers, pp. 1-24. (First published in 2006 as a special issue of Social Analysis 50, 2).

—, 2007a. Descended from the Celestial Rope: From the Father to the Son, and from the Ego to the Cosmic Self, in J. Mimica (ed.), Explorations in Psychoanalytic Ethnography, New York, Berghahn Publishers, pp. 77-105.

—, 2008. Mother’s Umbilicus and Father’s Spirit: The Dialectics of Selfhood of a Yagwoia Transgendered Person, Oceania 78 (2), pp. 168-198.

Neumann Erich, 1954. The Origins and History of Consciousness, Princeton, Princeton University Press.

—, 1966. Narcissism, Normal Self-formation, and the Primary Relation to the Mother, Spring, pp. 81-106.

Rank Otto, 1979. The Double. A Psychoanalytic Study, New York, Meridian Books.

Roheim Geza, 1945. The Eternal Ones of the Dream, New York, International Universities Press.

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1  And, by extension, of the Umeda-Punda-Sowanda people (Gell, 1975).

2  The Yagwoia’s immediate neighbours are Sambia (Herdt, 1981, 1987), Baruya (Godelier, 1986), and NW Ankave (Bonnemère and Lemonnier, 2007).

3  This is an extract from a long monographic work on the Yagwoia kinship whose focus is on the father-son relationship. Two other extracts (case-studies) have already been published (Mimica, 2007a, 2008) of which the second directly relates to the present one.

4  Ouroboros (or uroboros) is the well-known archetypal image of the self-eating serpent (Neumann, 1954) which among the Yagwoia has a unique mythopoeic manifestation as their self-created androgynous Imacoqwa (The Great-one-he), the phallic womb container of everything that there is. He is the cosmic bi-unity whose eyes are the sun and moon; he embodies, continuously generates, and sustains the world. Among the Yagwoia, the structure of the human embodiment is the microcosmic image of this macrocosmic totality (for details, see Mimica, 1981, 1988, 1991, 2006).

5  I explain my use on the slashed un/conscious in 2006: 31-32; 2007a: 78-79. Minimally, it indicates that no a priori assumption is made as how and in what mode, if at all, something is unconscious in a given field of experience.

6  All names are fictional constructions based on the combinations of Yagwoia syllables and morphemes.

7  Huma-y-o-qwa = negative/privation-nominal marker-male gender clitic-male gender marker.

8  It was clear that as his father was getting older that he became entirely focussed on Ulaqayi while demanding from his older sons to take on his paternal role and duties. In that regard he fully relinquished his bone to his sons and they were to generate and transmit its power to their younger brothers (for details, see Mimica, 2008).

9  This is a characteristic Yagwoia image of the giving and hence procreative hand. It condenses their view of the human body as a phallic arboreal edifice (as sketched out in the opening paragraphs) and equates the activity of giving with procreation where phallic-copulative action is simultaneously feeding qua breast and handling of solid food. Still more, hand is at once identical with a major branch as a maximally autonomous and instrumental extension of the trunk which is the core of the body envisaged as the ouroboric phallus. The fingers in turn are the multiplying part = whole equivalents of the hand and the body as a whole. In particular, they bear the identities of the person’s progeny (see Mimica, 1981, 1988, 1991, 2006, 2008).

10  One should not be too literal about the actual age accuracy indicated by the image of «walking on all fours» (atla qa:ne).It primarily indicates the notion of being a very small child.

11  It will be noted that the kin-term for mother’s brother is 1S namne > namnoqwa, meaning literally «mother’s breast» (2S namneqa; 3S kayemu)

12  Since UlaqWapace gave me both the vernacular and Tok Pisin versions a few details not mentioned in the vernacular are incorporated in the interpretive discussion that follows the dream-narrative.

13  It is of critical significance that in the vernacular UlaqWapace used the term namnye (rather than ngaldenecoqwa or tate)which a person would primarily use for a classificatory matrilateral brother. The term is pointedly ambivalent. It relates to a more intensified term for the same class of relations, aamnelyi derived from the word aamne (breast). Because of the presupposition of the same name between male (classificatory) siblings, namnye has a sense of one’s double, the-other-of-myself, and at the same time it can be intended as being somewhat alien. By contrast, nga-lde-nec-o-qwa (I-Poss-brother-male gender clitic-male gender), specifies intense emotional closeness between the speaker (male or female) and his/her brother. Namnye has also a sense of «friend» as captured in some Slavic languages, e.g. Croatio-Serbian «drug» or «drugar». It means the friend who is the «other» or even a double, twin of myself. Because this is a dream experience, when persons and things are identified as known (recognised) they are commonly qualified as «same-as», «like» indicating that they are semblances of the known persons and places. Hence why UlaWapace names and refers to his older brother consistently as «as-QW» or «same-as».

14  This is the last cluster of hamlets from where the road leads across the range into the Iqwaye territory and altogether outside of the Yagwoia region. This indeed is the threshold between the home area and the outside world.

15  For the equivalent dynamics articulated in another Yagwoia man, see Mimica (2007a).

16  For my usage of ^, see Mimica (2006: 31). Briefly, it signifies that any two terms thus conjoined are totally interdependent.

17  I wish to emphasise that this simple totalising schematism of self-sameness and self-difference is greatly enhanced by the syntactical-narrative articulation in the Yagwoia language where the relations between clauses through the use of verb-based chain alteration-qua-repetition, agent differentiation through the so-called «switch-reference» marking on the so-called «medial-verbs», generate a more diffuse parallelistic diagrammatisation, being expressive of the fundamental poetic dynamism in the language. I fully grasped this generative dynamism of the Yagwoia when I analysed and translated their cosmogonic song (sang at the onset of the first initiation ceremony) and numerous spells in which various diagrammatic shapes of the Yagwoia parallestic inner form (or archetype) achieve most crystalline articulations. The Yagwoia speakers’ use of Tok Pisin also reproduces these inner shapes and dynamism of the vernacular. The constructive imagination operative in the Yagwoia language reaffirms the value and acuteness of Jakobson’s seminal insights enunciated in the very title of his «The grammar of poetry and the poetry of grammar» (1985).

18  The plural of «cathexis», a technical term created by Freud’s translator James Strachey; it can best be rendered here as «investment».

19  For a discussion, see Mimica (2006: 32).

20  In a dream by another person this scheme is further transfigured since the overt image is a huge eel inside a water-hole. The eel is intent on devouring humans and as it does so it retreats into the watery container. Topologically, the eel can be seen as  a self-eversion of its container, the containing hole. It mirrors the homologous relation between the mouth and the tongue, the mouth and the nipple, the penis shaft and its enveloping skin, and, of course, the oral (fellatio) and vaginal sexual conjunction. All of them exemplify a concrete somatic image of ouroboric self-closure that subsumes (orally incorporates) the other as a self-object (principally the mother).

21  This centripetal mother-child matrix can be further amplified in reference to the ouroboros as an archetypal structuration of libidinal dynamics. Ouroboros crystallizes the oral-grasping-ocular unity and nucleus of all drives. Here copulation is the mirror-inverse of sucking, biting, eating, looking, grabbing, and evacuation (vomiting, urinating, defecating, ocular emissions). Libido is indeed mortido.

22  This image is further explicitly enacted in the first initiation ceremony.

23  Compare the case of QC (Mimica, 2007a: 87) and his auto-curative visionary experiences at the waterfall where the spirits of his two deceased wives dwell.

24   The opposite of «cathexis» and means «disinvestment».

25  Compare this with QP’s (Mimica, 2007a: 92-97) dream in which his severance from the «white man complex» (self-circuity) is done by his father’s spirit QC.

26  It is here that I wish especially to emphasise Roheim’s formulations and observations on the dual unity (M^Ch) as a singular contribution to the dynamic structure of the double in the un/conscious. He stresses its more symbiotic and less conflictual formation expressed in the figure of siblings and equivalent imagos such as the «dual heros» (1945). One can see in UlaqWapace’s dream a perfect example of the transformative switch from the negative into the positive form of the double correlative with the change of its «recognition» value – unknown > known.

27  In terms of the libidinal body image and drive structuration, including self-object equilibration of narcissistic self-circuity, this and other oneiro-mythopoeic images are predicated of an oral-ocular intra-psychic structure that generates and sustains the primary formations of self-ideality, omni/m/potence, and the correlative effluence of libido-mortido. The concept of omni/m/potence (Mimica, 2003a: 27) pertains to the economy of the archaic narcissistic equilibrium in which, due to its extreme mirror-schizoid bivalency, symbiotic omnipotence and impotence are equipollent and coterminous.

28  Yet it is exactly in the severance of this maternal oral-ocular core that a truly more radical gradient of the transformation of the egoic self can occur. This sort of soul-surgery, of course, was carried out through the nose-piercing and the practice of long-term insemination, neither of which UlaqWapace was subjected to. I must emphasise that what these practices aimed at was a modification of the phallo-umbilical connection between a boy and the ouroboric maternal matrix of his un/conscious, not – per impossible – a radical disconnection, for in the very same process of his masculinization through the totalising incorporation of and becoming incorporated into the primal phallic self-circuity of the all-male creation, the novice also sustains the co-articulation of his contra-sexual self that is lived in his position as being his sister’s children’s mother’s brother, their «mother’s breast» or the male mother. In UlaqWapace’s case one deals with a genuine spontaneous expression of this cultural imaginal complex in which the maternal imago becomes masculinised and thus transfigured. Very early on in his childhood it was his dead mother’s breast’s spirit which made him imbibe his (masculine) potent food that has secured UlaqWapace’s growth.

29  In the Tok Pisin version of the dream narrative QW replied: «Fine, from here we-two go separate ways».

30  But as a spirit of the dead he remained attached, same as he was while alive, to his other, transgendered son Ulaqayi (see Mimica, 2008).

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Jadran Mimica, « Flying away like a bird: An instance of severance from the parental abode (Iwolaqamalycaane, Yagwoia, Papua New Guinea) », Le Journal de la Société des Océanistes, 130-131 | 2010, 67-78.

Référence électronique

Jadran Mimica, « Flying away like a bird: An instance of severance from the parental abode (Iwolaqamalycaane, Yagwoia, Papua New Guinea) », Le Journal de la Société des Océanistes [En ligne], 130-131 | 2010, mis en ligne le 15 décembre 2013, consulté le 28 mars 2017. URL : ; DOI : 10.4000/jso.6090

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